1. ITV Report

West Suffolk Hospital 'requires improvement'

The West Suffolk NHS Trust has been criticised by hospital inspectors after falling from outstanding two years ago to now requiring improvement overall.

Inspectors say they found significant concerns and risks to patients within the maternity and midwifery service, which included the failure to track and score observations of some women and new-born babies in order to identify deterioration.

West Suffolk Hospital 'requires improvement' Credit: ITV Anglia

The Care Quality Commission say they raised these concerns with the trust immediately following the inspection and a warning notice was issued stating that improvements must be made by 31 January 2020.

Our inspection of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust found that improvement was needed, and it is disappointing that their previous rating of Outstanding has gone down to Requires Improvement. We also found that the style of executive leadership did not demonstrate an open and empowering culture. There was an evident disconnect between the executive team and some consultants. Not all staff felt respected, supported and valued or felt that they could raise concerns without fear of retribution. This has been exacerbated by the way the trust has managed recent issues of concern.

– Professor Ted Baker, Chief Inspector of Hospitals
Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Credit: ITV Anglia

The Trust, which covers the Health Secretary Matt Hancock's constituency, was praised though for outstanding work in community health services for children.

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The West Suffolk Hospital 'requires improvement'. Credit: ITV Anglia

The inspectors have given the trust a list of improvements they must make

  • The trust must take definitive steps to improve the culture, openness and transparency throughout the organisation and reduce inconsistencies in culture and leadership.
  • The trust must ensure the culture supports the delivery of high quality sustainable care, where staff are actively encouraged to speak up and to raise concerns, and where clinicians are engaged and encouraged to collaborate in improving the quality of care.
  • The trust must ensure that effective process for the management of human resources (HR) processes, including staff grievances and complaints, are maintained in line with trust policy.
  • The trust must ensure that processes for incident reporting, investigation, actions and learning improve are embedded across all services and that risks are swiftly identified, mitigated and managed.
  • The trust must ensure that they implement a nationally recognised monitoring vital observations tool for women attending triage on labour suite and the maternity day assessment. The trust must ensure they implement a national recognised monitoring vital observations tool for new born babies on the labour suite and F11 ward.
  • The trust must ensure outpatients can access the service when they need it and receive the right care promptly in line with national targets.
Jo Churchill. Credit: ITV News Anglia

In a statement, Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill said she had "real concerns" with the findings:

"The outcome of the CQC report is disappointing and I have real concerns with some of the findings. The comments around midwifery and culture need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Every parent should feel confident in the maternity care they receive, and it is imperative that every procedure and safety precaution is implemented by the hospital when delivering care," she said.

"I am also concerned with the processes for incident reporting and investigation at the hospital, as all staff should feel that they can speak up and have the confidence that anything they raise will be taken seriously and the improvements they suggest are acted on.

"However, I have been assured by the Chief Executive and leadership team that the comments have been taken on board and they are proactively working hard to implement the CQC recommendations in order to deliver the high quality standards patients expect and deserve."